It’s been over 1 month for most of us in this new world where we are sheltered at home, schools are closed, and our habits have transformed. The world is still grieving. Some of us are still in denial, wishing things would go back to the way they were. They won’t. Others are angry, bargaining, or depressed. We have to move to acceptance.
This is our new reality. There’s a silver lining to everything. Parents now better understand the value of school and how it serves multiple purposes: child care, social connection, and learning. Parents now have greater empathy for teachers. Parents now have more time to spend with their kids. It’s hard to have kids at home, keep them stimulated, and avoid your personal stress from finding its way into your interactions with your child. Being a parent was hard last year, but it’s even harder now. How can I provide for my child financially? How can I ensure they are not falling behind in school? How can I ensure they are safe on the internet?
As parents, we all have a responsibility to ensure our kids are doing what’s required of them to come of age. We teach them to wash their hands, play nice with the siblings, eat their vegetables and complete their homework. Before this crisis, we were trying to limit screen time. Now we are trying to encourage screen time for school, homework, and socializing. 50% of kids are not attending their zoom classes because they are not engaging. They feel there is no reason to attend. They say, “I am not learning anything” or “It is so boring.”
This was happening before, just now it’s at home. The only thing kids miss about school is their friends. Does that tell you something about what is actually going on in school? It isn’t the content; it is the relationships. Kids instinctively need to learn how to build relationships. The school setting provides that. In fact, school is all about relationships; relationships with friends, relationships with teachers.
So what can you do to help ease the transition to this new reality?
Find a learning buddy for your child - this can be a sibling, friend, or classmate. Have them work together and be the first line to help each other before asking a parent or teacher for help.
Provide structure to your child’s schedule - without a fixed schedule kids (and adults) will stay in bed until noon. It’s okay if this schedule is different than before. The schedule should include wake-up time, chores, homework, class, passion projects, exercise, and virtual time with friends. Work with your child, learning buddy and their parents to figure out a schedule that works best for everyone.
Have your child work on their passion projects - kids are naturally curious and love to learn. Working on projects that they are passionate about will keep them motivated and help them become lifelong learners. With more free time now, there is a chance for kids to pursue any nascent interests.